Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.
The Wikimedia projects make up one of the world's largest repositories of human knowledge. With that much information, someone is bound to get upset by some of the content from time to time. While the vast majority of content disputes are resolved by users themselves, in some extreme cases the Wikimedia Foundation may receive a legal demand to override our users.
The Wikimedia projects are yours, not ours. People just like you from around the world write, upload, edit, and curate all of the content. Therefore, we believe users should decide what belongs on Wikimedia projects whenever legally possible.
Below, you will find more information about the number of requests we receive, where they come from, and how they could impact free knowledge. You can also learn more about how we fight for freedom of speech through our user assistance programs in the FAQ.
You can hide memories, but you can’t erase the history that produced them.
By Any Other Name April 2016
Sometimes, public figures are upset that Wikipedia articles contain the most basic information: for example, their name. An author with a pen name; a famous comedian who performs pseudonymously; and a musical group that uses stage names—all contacted us earlier this year to have their names removed from Wikipedia articles. Decisions about what well-sourced information should be on the projects belong to the Wikimedia communities. We directed them to the editors of Galician, English, and French Wikipedia, who can evaluate the sources provided for these names and determine whether or not to remove them.
Dictating Content April 2016
We occasionally receive requests from governments to remove content that those governments may find offensive—even content that is perfectly legal elsewhere. In April, we received an email from the Information and Communication Technologies Authority of the Turkish government, claiming that the Turkish Wikipedia article on Müşfik diktatörlük (benevolent dictatorship) violated Turkish law. We rejected the request, and offered to pass the message on to Turkish Wikipedia volunteers. The projects belong to the contributors, readers, and other members of the Wikimedia communities, and we believe that where possible they should decide what content belongs on the projects.
Happy Hour June 2016
Occasionally, businesses will claim that Wikipedia articles about their products are unlawful—or, in this case, “illicit”. This happened in June, when an alcoholic beverage organization emailed us, arguing that an international treaty restricted English Wikipedia editors from referring to the organization’s region-specific alcoholic beverage by a generic name. We rejected the request and informed the organization that neither trademark law nor international treaties prevent Wikimedia communities from discussing that product or similar products. We also informed them that they were welcome to work with the volunteers to discuss the proper labeling of their favored drink.
Because we did not collect data for projects potentially and actually affected until July 2013, this information is not available for July 2012 to June 2013.
Jan – Jun 2016
Total Number of RTBF Requests
Jan – Jun 2016
Number of Requests Granted
Right to be Forgotten Requests
In 2014, a European court decision, Google Spain v. AEPD and Mario Costeja González, granted individuals the ability to request that search engines “de-index” content about them under the so-called “Right To Be Forgotten” doctrine. We believe that denying people access to relevant and neutral information is antagonistic to the values of the Wikimedia movement; please see our August 2014 blog post for more on our views. Despite the fact that the projects are not search engines, we occasionally receive direct requests to remove content from Wikimedia projects under the Right To Be Forgotten.*
* Please note that this information only reflects requests made directly to us. Wikimedia project pages continue to disappear from search engine results without any notice, much less, request to us. We have a dedicated page where we post notices of delisted project pages that we have received from the search engines who provide such information as part of their own commitments to transparency. But we suspect that many search engines are not even giving notice, which we find contrary to core principles of free expression, due process, and transparency.
Jan – Jun 2016
Total Number of DMCA Takedown Requests
Jan – Jun 2016
Percentage of Requests Granted
DMCA Takedown Notices
The Wikimedia community is made up of creators, collectors, and consumers of free knowledge. While most material appearing on Wikimedia projects is in the public domain or freely licensed, on occasion, copyrighted material makes its way onto the projects.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor provision requires us to remove infringing material if we receive a proper takedown request. We thoroughly evaluate each DMCA takedown request to ensure that it is valid. We only remove allegedly infringing content when we believe that a request is valid, and we are transparent about that removal. If we do not believe a request to be valid, we will push back as appropriate. To learn more about DMCA procedures, see our DMCA policy.
Below, we provide information about the DMCA takedown notices we have received in the past and how we responded to them. During this reporting period, we received two DMCA counter-notices. One was rejected for being incomplete, and one became moot when the original DMCA was withdrawn.
Overprotecting intellectual property is as harmful as underprotecting it. Creativity is impossible without a rich public domain.
Feel the Bern January 2016
In January, we received a DMCA from the campaign of Bernie Sanders, a U.S. presidential primary candidate. They asked us to remove campaign logos from Wikimedia Commons. We cautioned them that the notice would be posted to Lumen, which could trigger a Streisand effect. They refused to withdraw the DMCA, so we removed the logos. The next day, Ars Technicawrote about the takedown, and we received a counter-notice from a Wikimedia user. We spoke with the Sanders campaign about the counter-notice, and were happy to hear they had decided to rescind their DMCA. The logos have been restored.
DMCA Poster Child February 2016
It’s not unusual to see movie posters or billboards long before a film is released, or for an upcoming movie to have a Wikipedia article written about it. Before a recent action movie hit theatres, Russian Wikipedia editors created an article about it, which included an image of one of the film’s posters. The studio behind the film contacted us in February with a DMCA notice requesting that the poster be removed from the site. However, we analyzed the request and refused it. The poster had been widely distributed to promote the movie, and it was fair use for editors to feature its image in an article informing readers about the film.
Reuse Ruse June 2016
We encourage the public to reuse Wikimedia content under our many free licenses. However, we ask that reusers respect those licenses and refrain from claiming copyright ownership of that content. This is what happened in June, when we received a DMCA notice from an Asian newspaper claiming that English Wikipedia had copied content from one of its articles. When we investigated, it turned out to be the opposite: the newspaper had copied the content from Wikipedia. We rejected the DMCA and provided a link to one of the community’s many guides on properly reusing Wikipedia content.